George Moriarty - The Road Ahead or the Road Behind (French translation)

Proofreading requested
English

The Road Ahead or the Road Behind

Sometimes I think the Fates must grin
as we denounce them and insist,
the only reason we can’t win
is the Fates themselves have missed.
 
Yet there lives on the ancient claim,
we win or lose within ourselves.
The shining trophies on our shelves
can never win tomorrow’s game.
 
So you and I know deeper down:
there is a chance to win the crown,
but when we fail to give our best,
we simply haven’t met the test
of giving all and saving none
until the game is really won.
 
Of showing what is meant by grit,
of fighting on when others quit;
of playing through not letting up,
it’s bearing down that wins the cup.
 
Of taking it and taking more
until we gain the winning score,
of dreaming there’s a goal ahead,
of hoping when our dreams are dead,
of praying when our hopes have fled,
yet, losing, not afraid to fall,
if bravely we have given all.
 
For who can ask more of a man
that giving all within his span,
it seems to me
is not so far from Victory.
 
And so the fates are seldom wrong,
no matter how they twist and wind,
it’s you and I who make our fates,
we open up or close the gates
on the Road Ahead or the Road Behind.
 
Submitted by Valeriu Raut on Sun, 06/05/2018 - 12:35
Submitter's comments:

A motivational poem written by a baseball umpire (and later: manager)

Align paragraphs
French translation

La route devant ou la route derrière nous

Parfois je crois que le Destin1 doit sourire
quand nous l' accusons, nous obstinons à croire
que la seule raison pour laquelle nous avons perdu
est que le Destin lui-même a échoué.
 
Mais elle existe encore, l'ancienne croyance
que c'est en nous que se décide la victoire.
Les trophées qui brillent sur nos étagères
ne peuvent jamais nous faire gagner le match de demain.
 
Vous et moi savons au fond de nous même
qu'il y a toujours une chance de gagner la couronne,
Mais quand nous ne nous donnons pas à fond,
nous n'avons pas réussi le test
de tout donner sans se ménager
jusqu'à ce que le match soit vraiment gagné.
 
De montrer ce qu'est la détermination
de continuer quand d'autres abandonnent ;
de continuer, ne pas abandonner,
c'est en donnant son maximum qu'on gagne la coupe.
 
De tenir le choc et continuer d'encaisser
jusqu'à marquer le but gagnant,
de rêver qu'il y a un but à l'horizon,
d'espérer quand nos rêves sont éteints,
de prier quand nos espoirs ont fui,
de perdre, sans avoir peur de tomber,
si nous avons tout donné courageusement.
 
Car qui peut demander plus à un homme
que de donner tout ce qui est en son pouvoir,
il me semble que tout donner
n'est pas si loin de la victoire.
 
Alors le sort a rarement tort,
si forte soit sa tortuosité,
Chacun de nous choisit son destin,
nous ouvrons ou fermons les portes
sur la route devant ou la route derrière nous.
 
  • 1. really "the Fates" means "les Parques", but I'm told that the French only refer to "Les Parques" in connection with death so "Destin" or "sort" has to be used insteadin other contexts
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Submitted by michealt on Sun, 06/05/2018 - 18:13
Added in reply to request by Valeriu Raut
Last edited by michealt on Tue, 08/05/2018 - 23:28
Author's comments:

I feel a bit guilty about scoring this as a translation. Most of it I first heard in French, not in English.

Most of it is not my translation, it's mostly just remembering something I heard (in French - I hadn't seen or heard it in English before today) once a few years ago in a bar in Barcelona (yes, despite the location I heard it in French, not in Spanish or Catalan) and then hunted for (in French) on the web and found bits of it.
Originally I thought it was about rugby (that being a far more French thing than baseball) so the submitter's comment on the lyrics was a revelation for me, but the baseball umpire's words are appropriate for any decent sport (including rugby, but in my opinion not, of course, soccer).

Even where I don't remember today what I heard back then, I could sometimes find things on the web if I remembered the preceding or the following line.

After putting it together, I tried hunting for it in Reverso's corpus. A lot of it is there, but incorrectly punctuated (just about every comma is changed to a full stop).

And recalling most of the text of the translation I heard years ago was a bit of a mistake; see the comments on it below from petit élève. I hope that it's a bit better now!

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Comments
petit élève    Sun, 06/05/2018 - 19:56

the fates -> Mmm.. "les Parques" are rather associated with death than fate, I think. I'd rather use "le Destin" as a personification of fate.

as we denounce them -> that would rather be "accuser" in French. "dénoncer" is only used to report a crime.

nous insistons pour que la seule la seule raison soit -> that's grammatically correct but a bit odd. As if the guys would want to change the official conclusion of a report or something.
I'd rather say "nous nous obstinons à penser que la seule raison pour laquelle nous avons perdu est que le Destin lui-même a échoué" or something like that.

l'ancienne croyance que nous gagnons ou nous perdons en nous -> rather "que c'est en nous que se décide la victoire" or something like that. "nous gagnons ou perdons" sounds good in English, but a bit bland in French.

trophés brillants -> "trophée" always ends in 'e'. "trophées qui brillent" would have more punch. The gerund is always a bit heavy in French, better use alternatives when possible.

we fail to give our best -> "nous ne nous donnons pas à fond" or "nous ne faisons pas tout notre possible" would be more idiomatic

giving all and saving none -> "tout donner sans se ménager" or "tout donner jusqu'au bout"

really won -> "vraiment gagné" sounds more like what a soccer/rugby player would say

de n' pas -> "ne pas" would sound quite alright, really Regular smile

De le souffrir et de souffrir plus -> "it" doesn't translate well as "le", rather as "ça", but in this case neither really works. "Serrer et montrer les dents" could work if you want to mimic the pun on "taking", or "Tenir le choc et continuer d'encaisser" if you want to stay closer to the meaning.

no matter how they twist and wind -> "si tortueux soit-il" or something like that. "twist and turn" just doesn't work in French

you and I who make our fates -> rather "c'est toi et moi qui choisissons notre destin" or something like that. "faire/créer son destin" just sounds odd.

Valeriu Raut    Mon, 07/05/2018 - 14:42

La route (devant our) à suivre ou la route derrière nous

michealt    Mon, 07/05/2018 - 15:37

I've deleted the "r" as it is an error. Thanks for drawing my atention to it.

I don't think "à suivre" is needed, or indeed any verb. The title is derived from the last line of the text, by omitting the initial preposition; the two roads are not the object of any verb in the text, so it would be incorrect to introduce some verb in the title, effectively divorcing it from the text. I'm not really sure that "nous" is required either but included it in my translation of the last line and hence also in the title.

michealt    Mon, 07/05/2018 - 14:53

Thanks, Pierre.
On "the Fates", the plural in English always refers (except when it isn't capitalised and it comes in constructs like "Fred and Bill had quite different fates") to the trio of Godesses Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, which the Romans called "parcae" (which is the source of French "Parques" who spin, pay out and split, and cut the treads of life. And "Les Parques" specifically means "les trois déesses (Clotho, Lachésis, Atropos) qui président à la destinée des hommes en filant, dévidant et coupant le fil de la vie". So a reference to "Les Parques" is quite different from a reference to Atropos alone (she does the cutting, so a reference specifically to her alone would be a reference to death; Clotho does the spinning and Lachesis does the rest, neither of those two determines who dies when or has any part in delivering death). So I think in the first stanza it would be wrong not to reflect the clear reference to the trio and treat "the fates" as "fate". In the final staza, "our fates" are something we determine, so not three Godesses, and that is destiny (destin or sort) and not Parques.

The repetion of "la seule" in the first stanza was pure carelessness on my part.

I agree with the rest of what you say, in fact if I had thought about how the French felt instead of trying to recall/find bits of a translation I had heard before I would have realised that a lot of it was a bit off. So I have alot iof changes to make.

petit élève    Mon, 07/05/2018 - 15:47

I understand the Fates as mythological deities are dealing with all aspects of, well, fate, but my native gut tells me "les Parques" are almost exclusively evoked in French when talking about death or the ineluctable end of life. They don't really work as a symbol for fate, except when you make them the topic of the conversation of course.
So summoning the three sisters to a discussion about winning a football match would sound a bit silly, like summoning Saint Georges to get rid of a grass snake Regular smile See what I mean ?

michealt    Tue, 08/05/2018 - 23:19

But there's nothing wrong with summoning St George to get rid of a grass snake, except when in the company of Irishmen: in that company it should be St Patrick who is summoned for that purpose.

But as you are really sure that les Parques doesn't work in this context I'll change it.

petit élève    Tue, 08/05/2018 - 23:31

Ah well, you could try replacing the Fates with the Eumenides then Teeth smile

Now seriously, you know I can be stubborn at times, but usually it's for a reason. I don't claim to be an infallible judge of French idiomatic features, but really I doubt these Parques would ring a bell to many of my fellow citizens!

michealt    Wed, 09/05/2018 - 15:17

No, the Eumenides (also known as the Erinyes and the Furiae) are the wrong godesses: they are the Greek Cthonic godesses of vengeance and punishment Alecto, Tisiphone, and Megaera; their function was to punish oathbreakers (thus avenging those who suffered as a result of the oathbreaking) a punishement which always included death. Not remotely like Fates such as the Latin Parcae, who were the Greek Moirai before the Romans Latinised them. The three Latin Fates were Nona, Decima, and Morta and unlike the Eumenides were heavenly (or at least non-infernal) Godesses, not infernal ones, and had no names or functions - indeed nothing at all - in common with the Eumenides. It seems possible that the Latin name of the third fate may have influenced the meaning of Parques in French; the Latin names never took off in English, so it doesn't have that misunderstanding of what the Fates did.
The reason I don't like "Destiny" is that it doesn't mean "The Fates", it's personifying fate as a single thing instead of a trio, so it doesn't match the English. But the trio no longer serves its classical purpose in modern French, and "Le Destin" has taken on the function of personifying fate without the added clutter of spinning, measuring and paying out, and cutting. So really there's no option but to use "destiny" - but I think French has lost something by overspecialising Les Parques.
Sometimes you have to be stubborn to convince me - from my point of view its a good indication of how certain you are about something.

petit élève    Wed, 09/05/2018 - 15:22

I know a lot about these "benevolent ones". I always found them fascinating, like a particularly frightful embodiment of Immanent Justice. Zeus' last resort law enforcement squad or something Teeth smile
They even appear in this little gem of a novel as support characters.
Besides, Megaera (Mégère) became a common noun in French (shrew).

Well I can only point you to various French definitions:

Parque : Déesse de la mythologie grecque qui contrôle la vie des hommes, en la déroulant et en la coupant comme un fil.
Parques: Chacune des trois déesses (Clotho, Lachésis, Atropos) qui président à la destinée des hommes en filant, dévidant et coupant le fil de la vie.
The Littré has rather convincing examples of use by famous poets and writers.